The National Dog Show presented by Purina is a joyful Thanksgiving tradition, bringing holiday cheer to the TV screens in between the parade and football. It is hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, which has hosted dog shows for almost as long as the American Kennel Club has existed, and takes place in early November.
With play-by-play by American Kennel Club judge David Frei and color commentary by actor John O’Hurley (Seinfeld), the National Dog Show is one of the three major conformation events of the dog sports calendar, alongside the AKC National Championship each December and the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in late winter, featuring nearly every breed and variety that the AKC recognizes (around 200 or so).
It was inspired by the Christopher Guest mockumentary film Best in Show, and first aired in 2001 where a Labrador Retriever named Gus took home the top prize; the reigning winner is a Scottish Deerhound named Claire.
19 breeds and varieties have taken the Best in Show crown, but as Frei told Dog O’Day during a 2019 interview, at the end of the day, the real Best in Show is the viewer’s own pupper: “I want our viewers to think about the National Dog Show as a celebration of the dogs in our lives. Enjoy the entertainment of seeing 196 different breeds and varieties, enjoy the competition, root for your favorites.”
The 2021 National Dog Show will air on NBC at noon across all time zones on Thanksgiving Day, which is Thursday, November 25.